So, Joy Orbison's "Hyph Mngo" was RA's top track of 2009. A "refreshingly obvious choice," we conceded at the time, in that it epitomised the slipperiness of electronic music in a year when genres became increasingly futile proxies to describe what anything actually sounded like. Despite managing the difficult task of connecting the dots between the dubstep, 2-step and woozy schlo-mo house making dents across the UK's bass-laden floors last year, what made "Hyph"'s hype so broadly felt ultimately turned out to be much more straightforward: irresistible and unabashed emotive clout.
Given its remarkably similar sonic palette and mid-point climax, "The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow" sounds like a restrained but unmistakably direct relative to 'Hyph', whose full-bodied thrust is spread more thinly over a beat well-suited to the current funky fare being pummelled by hotshots like Martyn and Appleblim. O'Grady's ubiquitous, yearningly chopped vocals sigh to the swell of synths before being stripped back by a split-second anticlimactic bass massage, an effect which allows "the shrew" to function blissfully as an air-clearing mid-set track transition after a sweaty skank workout.
"So Derobe" is a comparatively technical pacesetter employing a jerking, minimalist rhythm reminiscent of the sort of work previously put out by O'Grady's young contemporaries on Hessle Audio. As always, hooky vocals and bass stabs are weaved together in a flirty exchange, but (as with "Hyph") the track's hidden strengths lie in the gear-shifting capabilities offered by the dextrous high-end percussion.
The package's on-point credentials are consolidated with a typically tripped out remix from Werk's Actress, scattering his idiosyncratic ghostly machinations sparsely with "The Shrew"'s vocal lead and a bizarre spoken word sample about loving work and privacy. None of it makes any sense, but that's precisely how he gathered so many fans with last year's much-lauded Hazyville. Drawing its crackly wooze and clunk out over eight-and-a-half minutes, the "neu haus so glo" mix is an awkward mindfuck on the b-side of a single with obvious pop appeal, and as such is sure to be overlooked.
Appearing on Will Saul's Aus imprint is perhaps a bit of a curveball after O'Grady's previous work, but the relatively clean production and airiness explored in both of these tracks aren't wholly out of place against the label's usual deep 4/4 output. Instead, "The Shrew" should be received as a promising indication of how bass music might continue its voracious exhumation of the dance floor's subtler territories.
Buy Joy Orbison - The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow at
Tracklist: Joy Orbison - The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow A The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow
B1 So Derobe
B2 The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow (Actress Neu Haus So Glo Mix)